Italian police arrested 19 far-right extremists in raids across the country that uncovered a cache of weapons and a range of Nazi paraphernalia.
The suspects were trying to form the Italian National Socialist Workers Party and were making contacts in southern Europe, according to a police statement that said their operation, dubbed Black Shadows, was the result of two years of investigations.
In arrests from Milan to a provincial town in central Sicily, the officers seized rifles, crossbows, swords and knives, as well as Nazi flags, photos of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini and books on the late dictators.
Members of the nascent party were planning to strike a headquarters of an organization dedicated to second World War partisans in Milan or Rome, daily la Repubblica reported. At least one ring leader, dubbed Miss Hitler, had attended a nationalist movement convention in Lisbon.
Antonella Pavin, one of the organizers of the group, told Repubblica that “at Auschwitz, there were swimming pools, theaters, cinema. It wasn’t the way it’s been recounted.”
With hate crimes on the rise, it remains to be seen whether the probe will unveil a larger network and the extent of its ties to the mob. The police said the head trainer of the self-styled militia was a member of the Calabria-based ‘Ndrangheta mafia.
(c) 2019, Bloomberg · Flavia Krause-Jackson, Jerrold Colten